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Our 2020 Takeaways About Virtual Leadership Training and Development

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Some Themes From 2020 That Stood Out to Our Team

Change came quickly–and often–in 2020. We’ve all explored different ways of working and leading. But some things remain unchanged: Leadership development and learning are critical to the continued success of our workplaces, allowing us to adapt and respond to changes in the moment.

We asked our team to reflect on things that stood out to them this past year. From cultivating an appreciation-rich culture, to infusing learning with storytelling, here are their responses.

Andrea Davis: Enlist managers and peers in the effort to cultivate an appreciation-rich culture when times are tough.

If you have a team of remote employees to engage, it’s certainly possible to build a sense of community and meaning to boost morale. Encourage coworkers to recognize outstanding work among their peers. Despite our current unpredictable and stressful times, managers should also remember that there’s always something they can celebrate!

 

Krista Skidmore: Disruption, destabilization, decentralization, and disillusionment shape how we work–and they are getting more powerful.

Our review of organizational trends and leadership and team research showed some high-level factors that impact our work in a variety of ways. These four forces we saw–disruption, destabilization, decentralization, and disillusionment–only got stronger with the impacts of the global COVID pandemic, social unrest, and racial injustice that we faced this year. Our leaders are the ones helping employees adjust to shifting workplace dynamics and finding personal meaning in their work. As practitioners, it’s up to us to support them and enable them to do so as best as we can. I said in January 2020 that I believe we’re up to the challenge and I still do, but it’s becoming increasingly important for us to be agile leaders.

 

Amy Savage: Infuse your virtual facilitation with storytelling.

The importance of personal storytelling in the virtual environment becomes even more critical to establish rapport and credibility with your audience since you don’t have the benefit of physical presence in the room. The goal is to build relationships/credibility quickly and there’s no better way to do that than through a story. It also sets the tone for the group that we want to learn from each other’s personal experiences throughout the session – there is nothing more powerful than identifying your why as a leader and aligning to it. I recommend you be willing and prepared to sacrifice some content to allow more time for meaningful conversation that unfolds in a large group.


Bill Mugavin: If your leaders are only learning how to give feedback, they’re missing a critical component to their own development.

It takes courage and consideration to give feedback, but how we receive or process feedback can have an even bigger impact on our future potential – and we’re not talking about it nearly as much. Feedback can speed up your growth and help you provide your team better support. Without feedback, your self-awareness will decrease because no one is comfortable sharing what they really think. That’s the opposite of what we need in today’s day and age, when outside perspective, influence, and collaboration are incredibly valuable methods to understand and solve for today’s business challenges.

 

Linda Dausend: Use virtual session features to engage all participants.

I’m a BIG fan of using the Chat feature frequently – when facilitating virtually, participants are encouraged to think of the Chat as their “stream of consciousness”. One huge advantage of virtual is that EVERYONE can share their thoughts at once, and those that are less apt to speak up can feel more comfortable in this setting. Conversations with others are the most important part of the sessions ­– extra time is golden, and better results are seen when spreading out the sessions and giving participants “homework” to be shared during the next session as a conversation-starter.

 

Dan Willms: Virtual facilitation requires adaptation across many parts of the session.

If you were previously focused on primarily in-person training, you learned in 2020 that for virtual training it’s necessary to adapt activities like teach backs and add more time for interaction. Just like in the regular classroom setting, the facilitator’s energy plays a big role in engagement. BUT, in this virtual environment his/her sense of presence and energy should be much higher to create the best possible engagement.

We recommend re-thinking your slides, using larger text for better visibility and adding more details, especially for activities and expectations. Even the preparation will look different—facilitators especially should practice technology/resources/timing a couple of times before going live for a virtual session. When it comes to delivering in this new (but here to stay) virtual environment I like to think of a very easy and simple concept, I call it 20-20-10-10, which means: 20 min of content, 20 min of breakout small groups activities, 10 min teach-back/takeaways from each breakout group and 10 min break. If you are facilitating a full-day workshop you might think this concept won’t work because you may need more time for content, but the reality is that more and more people want to experience a class or workshop and not only “take” a class.

A participant having an experience and experiencing the content proves to be much more powerful when it comes to learning and triggering the necessary parts of the brain responsible for transferring the knowledge to the long term memory; I believe that’s when the real learning happens, and that happens much more effectively through this simple concept.

There is no doubt 2020 has reshaped the world as we know it, it is no longer a matter of what’s going to happen or what’s going to change, but a matter of how can we quickly adapt and deliver in a powerful, meaningful way. To me, it’s extremely exciting to see how well we at FlashPoint have navigated the new waters and successfully delivered so many virtual sessions in this past year. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2021!

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash


 

Rachel Semple

Rachel Semple works across the FlashPoint client journey, from crafting initial proposals to developing and reviewing program deliverables.

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